Well, it's been an interesting few days.
I'm still grousing over not having enough time to work around the house (I still need to finish the final cleanup of the basement, the yard looks unfinished at best, etc.), I'm working on getting my finances in check (realizing that I can't be as oblivious about money as I was when married), and I make plans that impact both - a day at the local amusement park with friends, and a night out for dinner with another friend. Still, I don't regret either - I don't get enough one-on-one time with the friend I had dinner with, and I haven't seen my other friend and her family in a long time. It was nice to get the kids together and go on the spin-and-puke rides.
I'm still working on realizing that I can do things without the shadow of my ex-husband's disapproval hanging over every decision I make. Drive 1.5 hours for dinner with a friend? I don't have anyone telling me it's selfish of them to expect me to drive, it's stupid of me, I'm selfish for taking the time away from the kids, yadda yadda. Except, I'm still very good at recreating that shadow for myself. Classical conditioning in action.
Now, P's different - he doesn't really give a shit (as long as it's not truly harmful or doesn't really impact something down the road). No judgment. No derision. No condescending attitude that I need guidance or direction or would screw things up if left on my own.
Even so, it's interesting to see when I fall into old patterns.
The night I went out for dinner, I'd vented to P that I really didn't feel like going out (this is, of course, before I went and had a fabulous time). That I've been slacking on the house and I really feel like I should just buckle down and do more. He asked where I was meeting her. I said, "<vague non-answer that sounded like something in the middle but really wasn't.>"
Now, this is where the needle needs to scratch along the record. Why the hell did I feel the need to minimize my own choices when it came to something stupid like where I was meeting my friend for dinner? Why minimize my own choice, rather than just owning it and saying, "Yep, I'm meeting her there, even though I was whining about the house. My choice. My own fault if I can't get to the work that needs to get done." Why, now that I'm no longer trying to avoid my ex-husband's disapproval, do I still fall back into classic avoidance behavior? Why do I not allow P to show me that he's not my ex? Why do I instead assume in my head that I'm going to get flak, accept that, and dance around the issue?
Ugh. I hate realizing how much of my responses are conditioned.
Of course, I don't think about ANY of this until the shit hits the fan. It's an automatic response. I minimize and avoid, P moves on, I head out for dinner, all is well. Until I'm on my way home, get a phone call, and hear, "You're not home YET?"
I won't go into detail, but it turned into a hell of a shitstorm. P felt that I'd lied to him, where he didn't deserve that at all… that he's never asked me to be anything other than myself, he's never judged me negatively, he's never tried to control me, and here I am mentally putting him in the same bucket as my ex. He was hurt, and wondered on what other occasions I'd done the same (I thought of one - where I had spent a large sum of money on dental work for my cat and felt stupid for doing so. He asked how much it was, and I sort of gave another vague non-answer).
And he's right. He didn't deserve that. Like I said above, I'm not even giving him a chance to NOT judge me. I'm mentally reacting to the SITUATION in the same way, regardless of the person. And if I keep doing that, it's insidious enough to become second nature. I would have pigeonholed him into the same role my ex played, and I would have shortchanged myself by being too afraid to own my own shit (at least until confronted). It puts me in the situation of HAVING to defend my choices every time, since once they're found out, it DOES become a shitstorm.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
At any rate, short of the long, a LOT of introspection to realize that on my end, plus a LOT of hurt feelings and talking and reassurance on both sides, and we both came out of this feeling pretty good about it. I've asked him to outright ASK me if I'm pulling this crap when his bullshit detector goes off.
Whenever that old "What benefits do you get from being in a poly relationship" question pops up, I used to be really reluctant to find an answer. Poly itself doesn't really give me a hell of a lot. I'm not Poly. I used to reframe the question as, "What do I get out of a relationship with my partner," which has a pretty long list of stuff in the "pro" column.
However, I do have a damn good answer now: introspection. Being in this relationship has driven me to dig deep into things that I never would have given a second thought to in the past. Why do I minimize? Because I don't want to deal with his shit. Well, WHY? What's behind it? What am I losing if I keep doing this? What's wrong with owning your own shit and letting your husband get ticked off and react to it?
If I'd asked myself those questions when married, I wonder how it would have gone.
I have learned a LOT about myself in the last couple years, due to the need to dig and dig and dig to get to the root of my issues and behaviors, and I find that I'm still learning. P says that if I ever do end up in another relationship, with the changes in introspection and communication, I'll be every mono guy's nightmare. I think he's onto something.
And if nothing else, I find myself a fascinating test subject.
ANYhoo… Today, my oldest daughter is "canning" to raise money for her dance studio's trip to NYC (learning a number from some members of the "Newsies" cast), and then we're packing everyone up to go visit mom in the hospital. The chemo really hit her hard last weekend, and she's only started to really perk up over the last couple days. She's asked me to stop by her place and pick up her dog so he can come in and visit her. THAT should be interesting.
She's filled out Living Will paperwork and wants to give me a copy. It's not hitting me like a big "OMG" right now, since I know it's a "just in case" maneuver, but still. And it makes me realize that I still need to get my ass in gear, see a lawyer, and get a will (and power of attorney) written up for ME, now that I no longer have a husband for that to all automatically fall to. Add that to the list.
In other, relationshippy news, I sent off a message to M2 basically stating that it was nice to meet her, sorry for the "eeeeeeeeh" squirrelly feeling, that I'm still navigating the "OMG NEW STUFF AAA!" road in all this, and it's not her, and that I would like to do the dinner or coffee thing again sometime. Haven't heard back, although I know she's been away for school stuff. I'm not really hanging on a reply, although I'm hoping I didn't come across as emotionally unstable or something. But that's just me and my tendency to overthink things.
Anyway, I hope everyone here has a nice weekend! Cheers!
(And yeah, I know I still haven't posted re. the sleepover... I'll get there, I promise!)